Alan Morrison

Alan B. Morrison is co-founder and director of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, which he founded with Ralph Nader in 1972.

Recent Articles

Reverse Gear

Many members of Congress who like to think of themselves as conservatives are supporting what appear to be very nonconservative ideas. Whether that charge is a fair one depends on both the appropriate meaning of the term "conservative" and a proper focus on what those members are advocating. Let's start with three examples of what conservative legislators have in store for the country. First, there is the recently passed ban on "partial birth" abortions. Second, there is proposed legislation that would eliminate all suits seeking damages against gun manufacturers, even those based on state laws. And third, there is the possible constitutional amendment that would forbid all gay marriages. In one sense, all three are conservative positions because they would take the law in these areas back to what it once was when partial-birth abortions (along with all other abortions) were illegal in most states, when there were no damage suits against gun makers, and when no one would have imagined...

Watch What You Wish For

In pursuit of campaign finance reform, many seek to reverse the precedent established by the Supreme Court in 1975, protecting campaign expenditures as free speech. But if the Court's ruling is overturned, the general protections of the First Amendment might be severely narrowed.

O n January 30, 1976, the Supreme Court issued its historic decision in Buckley v. Valeo , which has set the constitutional contours of debate about campaign finance reform ever since. Many who would like to see the campaign finance laws changed have been frustrated by the parts of Buckley that used the First Amendment to strike down limits on expenditures by candidates and on independent expenditures by others. They believe that overruling those parts of Buckley is necessary to achieve fair elections for public office in this country. Yet forgotten in all the clamor for tighter campaign finance regulation is the critical importance of precedent in our system of constitutional adjudication. It is nearly impossible to overrule a single decision without significant ripple effects on the precedents on which it relied and on the cases that have subsequently relied on it. While Buckley was explicitly about campaign finance, it has had a major impact in other areas where the First Amendment...